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Sydney hit by fierce lightning storm but hot weather forecast to return to the city's west

By Clare Mathie and Lily Mayers, Tuesday January 9, 2018 - 15:24 EDT
ABC image
Lightning in the sky above a home in East Killara in Sydney's north. - ABC

Lightning and rain have lashed parts of Sydney early this morning but the cool reprieve is expected to be short-lived, with high temperatures expected to return to the western suburbs.

Loud claps of thunder and lightning strikes woke many Sydneysiders, with some taking to Twitter to post comments about it.

The Global Position and Tracking Systems (GPATS) company said it detected approximately 13,000 lightning strikes across the state in the 24 hours to midday.

The company provides lightning data to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), power, mining, aviation and insurance companies.

The data is detected by a network of sensors that can determine the strength and location of each lightning strike.

Spokesman Murray Chateris said the electrical storm over Sydney was "one of the biggest in recent years".

Firefighters rescued an elderly woman from a house fire which may have been caused by lightning at Blacktown.

New South Wales Fire and Rescue Inspector Kernin Lambert said electrical wires sparked on the roof of the property in Frederick Street, causing the small fire.

"There was a 75-year-old lady, an elderly lady, inside the house fast asleep. She had no idea her house was on fire," he said.

"We've had several houses struck by lightning in close proximity. This house is very close to where this lightning storm has gone through. There is a strong possibility at this stage that this fire was cause by lightning."

On Sunday, temperatures in Sydney soared, with a high of 47.3 degrees Celsius recorded in Penrith.

BOM duty forecaster Craig Ryan said the extreme change in weather was prompted by a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea giving way to a trough extending over central and south-eastern Australia.

"You're basically replacing a warmer air mass with a lot cooler air mass, especially when there's a lot of moisture involved, particularly through New South Wales, and that can set off some decent storm activity," he said.

Patty from Bronte, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, was awoken by the wild weather.

"I had to let my dog out to pee at 5:00am and I thought please don't get hit by lightning," she said.

There were delays for commuters on the T-1 North Shore line in Sydney after services were suspended between Chatswood and Gordon.

Sydney Trains said signalling equipment at Gordon was damaged by lightning strikes but have since been repaired and services have resumed.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) said it received 150 calls overnight, mainly in Blacktown, with callers reporting trees had been uprooted, powerlines were down, and properties had damaged roofs.

"Blacktown was certainly an area that saw a lot of damage. There were 26 units and townhouses that all reported roof damage," SES duty officer Sharon Fox said.

Power company Ausgrid said 1,500 homes and businesses on the NSW Central Coast were without power because of the wet weather.

Ausgrid said crews were working to identify the fault and restore power in the Narara, Niagara Park and Ourimbah areas.

Outages have also been reported in Peats Ridge, Central Mangrove, Mangrove and Somersby areas.

The BOM has forecast more showers and a likely thunderstorm today with temperatures expected to reach a maximum of 31 degrees Celsius in Sydney and up to 37C in the city's west.

But the BOM has forecast a late southerly change which is expected to result in tomorrow's temperatures being below 30C throughout Sydney.


© ABC 2018

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